We are now entering a new era in retail. It’s one that brings products directly to the customer, circumventing traditional brick and mortar, bypassing the need for salespeople. Now, with the reinvention of Furniture.com, 1-800mattress, and all the existing and new Internet retailers, the need for consumers to interact with living, breathing experienced sales professionals is becoming less important...or is it?
The Internet is filled with tons of information and consumers demand this intelligence in order to feel confident in making the right decision about upcoming purchases. So with all this knowledge at their fingertips, why would bedding customers need to deal face-to-face with a salesperson?
Most bedding customers don't need a replacement mattress for a spare bedroom; they have specific needs and requirements. Technological advancements have been dramatic in the past few years - from foam encasement to memory foam, latex to hybrid, and gel to memory foam coils - all of these changes have been a godsend to those customers suffering from fibromyalgia, curvature of the spine, arthritis, acid reflux, sleep apnea, and other ailments. Those seeking relief from recent surgeries, as well as those suffering from ongoing pain and discomfort, have also benefited from these advancements. But these advanced sleep systems don’t sell themselves. No matter how much available information, there is no substitute for product demonstration and showing how specific features will benefit a particular client’s personal needs.
The Internet cannot develop a social bond with customers, nor can it build a relationship of trust, confidence, compassion, knowledge, experience, or professionalism. The decision to invest in the right sleep system is an emotional one that requires an understanding of an individual's unique sleep habits, health, and medical conditions. Only through face-to-face contact with a consultative sales professional can customers eliminate confusion, achieve focus, and make informed, intelligent decisions. Making the right choice involves the senses and the customer cannot see, touch, and feel if a certain technology is the right fit for him or her. These sleep systems are not cheap and, in order for consumers to open up their wallets, they need to be reassured the decision they make is the one they’ll be happy with for years to come.
The professional sales presentation is not scripted; it is personalized to meet the specific needs of the customers in front of you. Sleep specialists can uncover hidden requirements, present, demonstrate, and involve the client in the selection process. Only they can upsell if necessary as in showing how the addition of a power foundation to a customer with severe migraines or sleep apnea can reduce discomfort from the symptoms. Only they can determine, through trial closes, if all objections have been handled. All that’s left is asking for the sale that you’ve earned.
You may have read "The $600 Million Elephant in the Room" on Q's views where Mark Quinn encourages the industry to have some real conversations about online mattress sales. It's a growing concern and worthy of our attention. I believe that if the number of people buying sleep systems online grows, then we are doing something wrong.
The only way any consumer can make an intelligent, informed decision on an online major purchase that directly impacts their future health and well-being is if they had visited a bedding retailer. In that instance, that retailer educated the customer but didn't earn the sale. Your online competitor thanks you for the business.